Motorhomes, campervans and RVs are vehicles made for living in but that doesn’t make them the same. All have unique differences when it comes to design, layout, size and capacity.
If you’re thinking about buying or hiring a motorhome to travel around the country in, it’s a smart idea to understand the difference between the different types of recreational vehicles that are available on the market.
This article compares Motorhomes Vs Campervans Vs RVs in a bid to help you decide on the best vehicle for you and your travel needs.
Let’s start with the motorhome. Arguably the most common type of recreational vehicle in the UK (especially in Scotland)! Travel along the North Coast 500 during peak season and you’ll be met with long lines of impatient motorhome drivers travelling to their next destination.
Unlike campervans, which tend to be converted into living spaces from existing vans, a motorhome is a purpose-built home on wheels.
It is normally custom built on a van chassis which offers a larger living space and a more solid foundation. The main components of a motorhome are normally:
The front cab which consists of a standard driver and passenger seat
The living space is separate from the cab and contains contain beds, kitchen facilities and normally a shower room.
Motorhomes can come in a wide range of sizes, from small 2-berth motorhomes up to larger 6-berth motorhomes. The living space will have its own door that is separate from the standard car doors used for the driver's cab. Some motorhomes will also boast a boot space for extra storage, which is ideal for travellers who are interested in outdoor adventure sports.
Motorhomes provides a wide range of benefits that makes living and travelling simple, convenient and (hopefully) comfortable.
Some of the main benefits of a motorhome are
Convenient, purpose-built living space
Spacious and have capacity for the full family
Well-designed layout that provides everything you need for living: kitchen, washroom, sleeping space, relaxation space
Still small enough that they’re easy to manoeuvre and handle on the roads
Provides drivers with the freedom to live and travel on the road
Well-made motorhomes will also offer additional extras to make life even more comfortable on the road. All new motorhomes from Struans come equipped with fridge-freezers, hot showers and chemical toilets. We want our customers to enjoy the trip of a lifetime when travelling in a motorhome hire in Scotland.or bought from Struans.
If a motorhome is a purpose-built mobile home made for living in, then how does a campervan differ?
Well, first and foremost, campervans are not purpose-built. That is to say campervans have not always been campervans, they were once just vans which have since been converted into a mobile-living space. This means that campervans are usually built on a van chassis and designed on an existing panel van body.
Therefore, a campervan is smaller in size compared to a motorhome or RV and will have less facilities. Within a campervan you’ll tend to find:
An open-plan layout that does not have different rooms or compartments
A sleeping space that doubles up as a living space
An open driver's area that connects directly to the back living space (no divider)
A small kitchen / worktop station
Due to their limited space, campervans might not have a toilet or shower on board, although this can be done through careful planning and design.
If you’re still unsure what a campervan is, picture the classic VW model from the 60s; the quintessential (and original) campervan. Since then, campervans have sky rocketed in popularity, with more and more people converting vans of all shapes and sizes into convenient and stylish mobile-homes.
You can find out more about the steps needed to convert a van into a campervan with this helpful guide from DIY Campervan.
So now you should have a good working understanding of the main differences between a motorhome and campervan but you might still be thinking, “Which is the best option for me?”.
It’s a good question and one that can only be answered by you. That’s because the best option will depend on your individual circumstances and requirements.
In general, however, a motorhome is best for:
Families or larger groups of 3-5 people
Individual or couples who require more space and greater levels of comfort or carrying pets
Those who are less comfortable with camping and living in nature
Older people or individuals with less mobility
In comparison, a campervan is better suited to:
Solo travellers and couples
Younger people who are comfortable with less space and less home comforts
Those who enjoy wild camping and getting out into the nature
Those with a keen sense of adventure
People who are mobile, flexible and do not need a lot of living space
This is not to say that older people can’t enjoy life in a campervan, or that younger individuals can’t enjoy life in a motorhome. The decision will always come down to personal preference and circumstance, and considerations such as budget, travel length and location will also come into play.
Have a browse through our available motorhomes and campervans for purchase to check our latest stock.
If you’re interested in travelling around the beautiful country of Scotland, or the UK as a whole, a campervan or motorhome is the perfect way to do so!
To choose the best option for you it's important to consider:
How long you plan to travel for
Where you are travelling to
How many people will be in your party
What are your plans for the motorhome trip (camping, adventure sports etc.)
To give a final breakdown we've listed the advantages and disadvantages of both campervans and motorhomes below.
Larger size that is perfect for families of 3-5 (plus pets!).
More space for living, with most motorhomes having a lounge area, sleeping area and a well-equipped kitchen.
Unlike some campervans, motorhomes always have a shower and a toilet that is possibly larger
More convenient layout: As motorhomes are purpose built, the layout tends to be well-designed and offers roomier compartments for living and sleeping in
Extra storage space for your belongings, with a lot of motorhomes having an included “garage” space where camping or sports gear can be conveniently stored.
The larger size of the motorhome can make it harder to drive and decreases manoeuvrability. Height restrictions can also become an issue
Limited access to remote camping spots, camp sites and hard-toa-access locations
Fuel costs tend to be higher in a motorhome due to its larger size
Price: Motorhomes are generally more expensive to buy and to hire, with the larger models costing more than the smaller sized models
Driving license: Certain motorhome vehicles will exceed 3,500 kilos in weight, meaning UK residents may need a C1 driving license to operate the vehicle
The smaller size of a campervan makes it easier and more convenient to drive
Campervans have better accessibility than motorhomes and can therefore access campsites and areas that would be inaccessible in a larger vehicle
Heating a campervan is quick and easy due its small size
Better fuel efficiency
Versatile: As a campervan is effectively just a van, a can therefore be used instead of a car to do daily tasks and trips, as well as a mobile-home that can travel across the country.
Price: Campervans are cheaper to buy and hire in comparison to motorhomes
Campervans aren’t made for large groups of families. Most will only be able to accommodate 1-2 people.
Living space within the campervan is limited
Smaller toilet and shower room or in some case it will have neither
External storage is severely limited so carrying sports equipment or camping gear could cause some issues
Layout: Campervans tend to have just one section to them, meaning the living space, sleeping compartment and cooking area all merge into one
The final option of mobile home that has not yet been discussed is the RV.
RVs are the largest out of the three mobile home vehicles by quite some size. If you think tour busses and well-off, middle class American families, then you can get a better idea of what an RV is.
Due to their large size and huge price tag, RVs are not a viable option for most. In addition, their size makes them difficult to drive and very hard to navigate along country roads and the remote spaces which are very common in Scotland. Therefore, travelling in an RV for a short trip around Scotland or the UK is not recommended.
RVs are still an attractive option as they provide a heightened level of comfort can be very luxurious. They tend to boast separate rooms and will always be equipped with showers, toilets, entertainment, double beds and a whole host of other benefits and luxuries. However RVs are not common in Scotland.